X-Lab offers startups opportunities, expertise, community

In 2010, Xavier University’s Williams College of Business launched its X-LAB program (short for Xavier Launch a Business) in an effort to recognize on-campus opportunities for community engagement. The program is returning for its third year, and is accepting applicants until Sept. 7.

The X-Lab program is designed for people (including students) in the Cincinnati area who are excited about their ideas, but may not necessarily have the skills to execute them in the business world.

“A lot of people understand their ideas and are passionate about them,” says Joe Carter, director of the X-lab competition and a professor at Xavier University, “but they have no idea how to take the next step or how to run a business.”

The program will accept 25 applicants from Cincinnati who are interested in starting their own businesses, social enterprises and nonprofits. The businesses and nonprofits are chosen based on the applicants’ ideas and the potential for local and national growth.

After the X-Lab committee chooses the program’s 25 finalists, they are invited to attend free workshops conducted by local executives and Xavier students and staff. The free workshops teach applicants how to turn their ideas into actual businesses and nonprofits.

“We teach them the components of the business model,” says Carter. “Like how to protect their intellectual property, identifying target audiences and marketing skills.”

Then, the X-Lab committee will choose five finalists in the program and introduce them to potential investors and collaborators. 

Carter says small businesses and nonprofits are important to the community because they help attract and retain jobs and talent in the region. He also says the X-lab members become a community of entrepreneurs, who work together to make their ideas successful.

“We teach them how to run a business, and that builds confidence,” says Carter. “They also want to help one another and network, so it’s a positive experience for everyone.”

By Jen Saltsman
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